Actor: Buster Keaton
Films: The General (1926)
Johnnie Grey is a lovesick puppy who was rejected by the army for being too valuable in his present job. He made a calamitous journey across the Union / Confederate divide to save a charming woman who decided she wasn't interested because he wasn't a soldier.
On his journey he is often faced with obstacles that are seemingly impossible to overcome, but these are smartly stepped around using great ingenuity.
Like Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton was a huge name in silent comedy. Whilst he started on stage with his family in The Three Keatons, he became known for his film career that spanned 50 years, between 1917 and 1966, as both an actor and a director.
He is renowned for creating and performing his own stunts, including a scene from The General that is rumoured to be the most expensive stunt in cinematic history (after inflation). His work in this field inspired other actors, such as Jackie Chan, decades after his showpieces.
Like many stars of the silent era, Keaton failed to make a successful living after the transition to sound, and he would later admit that signing for MGM was the worst decision of his life. He made a brief comeback in the 1930's and 1940's without too much success. Little matter, Keaton's real masterpieces had already been stamped into Hollywood history.